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Sharks minus Vlasic, Nieto against Rangers

Defenseman out with lower-body injury; forward has hand injury

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks will be without top-pair defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and third-line forward Matt Nieto when they face the New York Rangers at SAP Center on Saturday (4 p.m. ET; MSG+, CSN-CA, NHL.TV).

Vlasic (lower body) and Nieto (hand) were injured during the Sharks' 3-1 road loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer described them as day-to-day. He said Nieto, however, will likely be out longer than Vlasic but will be back before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.

Defenseman Dylan DeMelo, recalled Saturday from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League, will replace Vlasic in the lineup and skate with Justin Braun, Vlasic's regular partner. Forward Tommy Wingels will return to the lineup after missing 14 games, the first 12 with a shoulder injury and the past two as a healthy scratch.

Video: BUF@SJS: Vlasic opens the scoring early in the 1st

Vlasic is the Sharks' top defensive defenseman and has a plus-15 rating, third best on the team.

"Anytime he's out you're concerned," DeBoer said. "He's a key guy for us. The silver lining I guess is it's better now than three or four weeks from now. The good news is it's not long term. He will be back."

The Sharks went 0-2-1 when Vlasic missed three games in December, but DeBoer said they have more defensive depth now. The Sharks acquired veteran defenseman Roman Polak from the Toronto Maple Leafs last month, and DeMelo now has 33 games of NHL experience.

"I think we're in a different place than we were then," DeBoer said. "I think our depth is much different than it was then, our comfort level with our group is much better. I think what goes hand in hand with that is our forward group is much better too, much deeper. I think we're much more prepared to handle that now."

Wingels has played 56 games this season and 288 in his NHL career.

"I know he's been chomping at the bit to get back in," DeBoer said. "So the nice thing is we have that depth where we can shove a guy like him right back in there."

Goaltender Martin Jones will start for the Sharks, and Henrik Lundqvist will start for the Rangers.

Lundqvist is 4-3-0 with a 2.03 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and one shutout against the Sharks. The save percentage is his highest against any NHL team.

In his only career start against the Rangers, Jones gave up four goals on 28 shots in a 4-0 loss on Oct. 19 at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers, according to coach Alain Vigneault, will use the same lineup they used in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday at Staples Center.

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